The process of sprouting mushrooms at home can seem complicated to the uninitiated, but it’s quite simple. With the right resources and tools, you'll be well-equipped to harvest mushrooms indoors or out. Consider these common questions before kicking off your fantastical fungi journey.
Frequently Asked Questions
The mushroom: a mysterious and complex entity. It might surprise you to learn it's just the fruiting body of a deeper root system called mycelium, which is attached to the dead organic matter in the soil. The part of the mushroom we see is there to convert its substrate into nutrients that can be used to produce more mushrooms.
Consumed as a food source by humans and animals alike, fungi are an important anthropogenic influence on many ecosystems, affecting soil fertility and plant growth.
Spores are the reproductive units of non-flowering fungi. Like seeds, spores are needed to increase mushroom expansion and population. The mushroom life cycle continues with the production of spores, which is a delicate process handled by mature fungi.
When you start growing mushrooms, you'll be buying and planting spores instead of seeds.
One of the best ways to introduce yourself to the world of mushrooms is by creating your very own oyster mushroom colony. Oyster mushrooms are delicious when sautéed with a dash of olive oil and make a great addition to scrambled eggs.
Another popular and recognizable edible mushroom is the Shiitake. Shiitake is simply delectable when stir-fried and makes a tasty sandwich filling.
In addition to Oyster and Shiitake, the Wood Ear mushroom is highly regarded as an exceptional culinary fungus. This very tasty but kind of ugly mushroom has thick, crunchy flesh with a flavor reminiscent of hazelnuts when cooked in hot butter.
When you're ready to venture into mushrooming, several species that offer a low-risk option for the first-time grower. Varieties like the White Button, Maitake, and Enoki require indirect light and can effortlessly thrive indoors.
Lion's Mane, Wine Cap, and Chicken of the Woods are other options, but they're more complicated because they fruit in compost or decaying logs and prefer being outside.
These unique organisms flourish in places that would seem inhospitable to plants: inside logs, buried deep under the soil, and even on top of bare rocks. To adapt to these challenging conditions, mushrooms come in a spectrum of shapes, sizes, and colors.
Each mushroom species has its own requirements. To garden mushrooms, you need spores or spawn cubes as well as the proper environment. You might also want to stock up on spawn bags, cubes for stem butter, and temperature gauges.
The first and most important step is choosing the type of mushroom you would like to grow. Depending on the type you decide to cultivate, you can purchase spores or spawns from farmer's markets, garden shops, or online. Once you've purchased your supplies, set up the perfect, cozy space for your new crop. It may take up to two weeks for your first mushroom to appear.
Mushrooms are ready to harvest as soon as their caps have unfurled and the edges have lifted. Though it may vary based on strain, most mushrooms are at their peak when the veil (the thin membrane around it) is ready to break. Some can be harvested as early as 2 weeks after sprouting, while others will take longer (up to 6 months).
To have a continual mushroom garden, cut mushrooms with sharp scissors at their stem when harvesting. If cut, they will continue to fruit.
Mycelium is a living organism and like any other being, it can shrink and die if exposed to unfavorable stimuli. To grow your mycelium into a beautiful batch of bountiful mushrooms, you need to provide a safe and sterile environment for it. When choosing a container, it is important to have sufficient airflow to prevent overwatering and pollutants.
Specialized microspore tape can be useful because it is permeable to carbon dioxide, oxygen, and moisture vapor but spores, bacteria, yeast, molds, and other contaminants can't get through.
Since they are nearly 90% water, mushrooms must be watered twice a day and kept in a very humid environment. To water properly, stand over the bed of mushrooms and, using a gentle circular motion, slowly pour water over the surface.
Make sure that you are using filtered water that does not have chlorine in it. The room should be between 50 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit so that the soil does not dry out too quickly — dry soil will negatively impact your mushrooms.
There is nothing quite as frustrating as gathering loads of mushrooms that spoil on your shelf because they were not properly stored. With a little preparation, the fungi you collected can be dried, frozen, or refrigerated until you are ready to use them.
Drying your mushrooms is a great way to keep your harvest for an extended period. Dried, fungi have the same benefits as fresh ones and generally retain their texture and flavor when rehydrated. They're devoid of water weight, which makes it easy to find a spot on your pantry shelf.